Jim Mora praises Marcus Mariota

UCLA coach Jim Mora has told NFL scouts that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will be a star at the next level.

Mariota, a redshirt sophomore and one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy, has 19 touchdown passes against no interceptions as well as nine rushing scores for No. 2 Oregon (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12) heading into Saturday's game against the visiting No. 12 Bruins (5-1, 2-1).

"I had a couple guys ask me, NFL guys, if I thought he could play at the next level," Mora said. "I said, 'Have you not watched him? I mean, he'll rip it up at the next level.' I mean, this guy is ripping it up at this level. He's really special."

It's possible that part of what makes Mariota special is his approach this week after he lost two fumbles in Saturday's 62-38 rout of Washington State. Even though he threw for 327 yards and two scores and carried eight times for 67 yards and another touchdown, Mariota is focused on improvement.

"Obviously I've got to take care of the ball a lot better," Mariota said. "I was pretty nonchalant with it in the pocket, and we can't have that."

Scouts who travel to Oregon this weekend to check out Mariota will also get a chance to see another dual-threat quarterback in UCLA's Brett Hundley, who will try to bounce back after he was held to a season-low 192 yards passing while getting sacked four times in a loss to Stanford on Saturday.

Even though the Ducks trail top-ranked Alabama and No. 2 Florida State in the first BCS standings of the season, Mariota insists they aren't concerned.

"That's their opinions, we have no control over that," he said. "We'll just continue to take it one game at a time."